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Tonewood Spotlight: Exhibition Grade Red Spruce

By: Josh Lucas

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a beloved dreadnought that was bequeathed to me by a family member. This guitar totally outclassed me at the time, and I was unbelievably lucky to receive such a gift. It’s the guitar that taught me how to properly sustain a note, and in general it’s the high-water-mark by which I judge all other dreads.

A couple of months ago I got a chance to play through some of Andrew’s Mastercraft guitars when they first arrived at our shop. I thought, what better chance to see what a dread could sound like if a luthier had hand-selected the woods, and if it’s the hype I had hoped it would be.

Well, first of all, you can’t look at our Mastercraft Dreadnought without immediately noticing the brilliant Exhibition Grade Red Spruce. Its pale checkered appearance gives off some total cowboy vibes. Ten-gallon hats aside, it is noticeably lighter in color than our Sitka Spruce tops, but is that the only difference?

When A-B-ing our rosewood dreads, the tonal variation between the two was noticeable, although a bit subtle. I’ve been racking my brain to come up with a good description, and have come up with a bunch of funny adjectives–the best way I was able to imagine it was that the Sitka has a more three-dimensional cushion around the attack of each note, while the Red Spruce has a slightly drier attack, with a sort of smoky sustain. It was different enough to be desirable for its unique qualities. At the same time, both guitars maintained the clarity that you’d expect from the combination of a type of rosewood and a type of spruce.

If you are looking for a high-quality dreadnought with boom and clarity to boot, you can’t go wrong by looking at any of our Decker’s Creek models. But if you’re looking for the right amount of subtlety and flash, and if you’re looking for that specific pre-war era tone, the Mastercraft Dreadnought is where you want to be.

All that being said, I think we should do an A-B (or more) comparison video of our dreads. What do you think?